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Good Eats:
The Early Years
By Alton Brown
ISBN: 1584797959
Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Publication date: October 2009
Format: Hardcover
Number of recipes: 140
List price: $37.50
Type: General; Food Science; Television
Sample recipe: No-Pan Pear Pie
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive encyclopedia coffee-table
Meal part: all breakfast/brunch lunch dinner dessert
Competition: outclassed a bit behind in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: airfare required online specialty store supermarket pantry
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose minimal complete educational
Time conscious: not conscious bald lies white lies realistic scout's honor
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant ample generous
Photos/drawings: none drawings b&w photos occasional color all/mostly color
Art contribution: disappointing distracting decorative beautiful glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine kind work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging ok clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy delicate years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: hard-to-find spotty sufficient most pages every page
Table of contents: missing frustrating minimal helpful excellent
Index: none confusing adequate nice a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writing history: beginner writer/journalist food writer writing cook personality
Cooking heritage: unknown self-taught teacher chef celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short satisfactory successful exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward good friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: This darn book is darn hard to put down, darn it!

(Did we sound a little like Alton Brown there? We were totally trying to! But now we're exhausted, so we'll go back to sounding like, well, whatever we usually sound like….)

This book is the first volume of two that are intended to chronicle every episode of the Food Network's Good Eats program, conceived, written, directed, and hosted by Mr. Brown. Every three or four or five pages of the book incorporates one episode of the show, which began in 1999 and continues to the present day.

There is tons of good information, and tons and tons (and tons) of words. Yet it does not get tedious. On several consecutive evenings, we were ready to go to bed, but each time we got to the end of a section, we'd promise to read just one more – and an hour and a half later, we were still reading. It helps that each segment is only a few pages. In addition to the recipes, there are explanations of techniques, lots of food-science information, and more than a little food trivia.

While there are more than 1,000 photos, few of them are really of a finished dish. They're production photos, Alton Brown, scenery, Alton Brown, ingredients, Alton Brown, etc. Do we have other biting comments? Oh yes we do. The footnotes, which are actually interesting in this book, are in really tiny print, and not always as easy to find as you would like. In other places the ink color is hard to read. An element we do not care for is mixing measurements, like calling for 2 ounces of sugar plus 1 teaspoon. We understand in baking there are times to be fussy and times where you can relax, but it looks silly to be fussy and not fussy in the same recipe, on the same page.

Do you have to be a fan – or even a viewer – of Good Eats to enjoy this book? Apparently not. We have one staff member who claims to not care for the show (gasp!), yet we had a hard time getting the book back.

At the other end of the scale (for the truly obsessed fan), the book cover comes off and unfolds to become a poster-sized image of the front cover (but even the most talented framer is never going to get rid of those fold marks…).


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